Only 10 percent of people in the world are left-handed. Of those, an even smaller percentage are female. Finding a left-handed softball pitcher is like mining for gold during the California Gold Rush. But Texas has two, including senior Tiarra Davis.
“There’s not many of them in college softball,” Davis said. “Facing a lefty is just something different. People don’t like change so it just makes it more exciting.”
But change is good, especially at the circle. Davis loaded three new pitches into her arsenal during the offseason. One of them is a changeup, which deceptively appears as a fastball only to soar slowly over the plate to mess up a hitter’s timing.
“We worked really really hard on that this fall because it’s really sporadic,” Davis said. “So we really worked on just finding the release point, finding what worked best with my body to do. We worked on perfecting that.”
It didn’t start off perfect in the regular season, though. Davis was challenged early, dropping games to No. 10 Minnesota and South Carolina at home.
But when Davis took the circle in Palm Springs, she was unstoppable. Davis went 2-0 in complete games over No. 24 Missouri and No. 15 Tennessee, firing 11 strikeouts to post a 1.00 ERA. She was rewarded with Big 12 Pitcher of the Week honors.
“I think I just didn’t put as much pressure on myself,” Davis said. “I relied a lot on the defense and the energy of our team. We’ve relied a lot on being energetic and being fun to watch. It makes my job really easy.”
Pitching isn’t the only strength of a lefty. Hitting also provides the offense a dangerous advantage. A left-handed hitter stands three feet closer to first base, which is a debatable edge depending on how often the lefty faces an opposite-handed pitcher.
Senior shortstop Devon Tunning and sophomore outfielder Reagan Hathaway both bat left-handed, shooting to the top of the stat sheets this season.
Hathaway contributed a .389 mark with a triple, a home run and four RBIs this past weekend. Tunning, who led the team last year in batting with a .350 season average, continued her success by earning two doubles, a home run and a .385 batting average in February’s Texas Invitational.
“Honestly, there’s always room for improvement,” Davis said. “But Coach (Tripp) MacKay always tells us ‘We’re putting up 10, eight runs against teams and y’all are only scratching the surface of your potential.’”
This week, Texas battles Texas State at home and will travel for a series against No. 6 Arizona.
“Every team is good right now, quite honestly,” head coach Connie Clark said. “I think the pollsters are having a hard time figuring out how they go about business.”